Home Renovations Show: Even for a veteran renovator, DIY project comes with a lesson

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Home Renovations Show: Even for a veteran renovator, DIY project comes with a lesson

Herb Lagois admits he should have walked the talk.
When the owner of Lagois Design-Build-Renovate (formerly Lagois Drafting & Construction) decided he needed an addition and a new kitchen for his own home, he buckled on the tool belt. Problem was, “I didn’t have the time, so what should have taken four or five months took two or three years.” The project eventually worked out, he says, but concedes “the smart thing to do would have been to hire a company.”
Lagois, a winner at the recent Ontario Home Builders’ Association awards, will speak about the risks and rewards of DIY renos at The Home Renovations Show Jan. 23 to 25 at the EY Centre.
Renos that drag on causing family stress aren’t the only risk of DIY ventures, according to Lagois. Others range from inadvertently exposing asbestos in ceiling stipple to a fellow who unknowingly removed a load-bearing wall in his home — a potentially catastrophic situation that Lagois’ team remedied.
The upside of owner renos is satisfaction in your own handiwork and, in some cases, cost savings. Painting is within the reach of a handy homeowner, according to Lagois. The availability of easily installed products such as flooring make certain basement renos another feasible DIYer.
“It comes down to aptitude. You have to be comfortable in what you’re doing. Avoid complex projects unless you have the experience and the time to dedicate to it,” he says.
If you opt for a professional renovator, combing Internet sites such as houzz.com will spark design ideas, suggests Guy Bianchi. The owner of MR Kitchens and Olistin Home Renovations is among the presenters at this year’s show. He’s speaking about what you can do yourself and what you should leave to the pros when it comes to kitchens.
More importantly, says Bianchi, set a budget and be up front with your renovator about it. “People are afraid that if they tell the contractor they have $100,000 to spend, (the contractor) will spend it all or sell them $50,000 worth of work for $100,000. It’s the relationship with your contractor that’s very important.”
Good design is essential to an efficient kitchen, he says. You could have the highest quality components, but with a bad design nothing works together.
Also important is product installation. “An IKEA unit will work better properly installed than one of mine not properly installed,” says Bianchi. The installation component of a kitchen reno is typically less than $1,000 — not a big cost saving if the job takes you a week but a pro just a couple of days.
When selecting a renovator, ask lots of questions, he adds. Questions like, “How long have you been in business? What’s the timeline on my project? What’s not included in the price?”
Budding DIYers or those living in smaller quarters like condos may not have all the tools they need. Another presenter at this year’s show, the newly established Ottawa Tool Library, can help. Slated to open in the spring, the library will lend power tools, ladders, even wheelbarrows to members. “It’s part of a cross-Canada library move, part of the sharing community,” says the Ottawa Tool Library’s Donna Henhoeffer.
The organization has yet to settle on a permanent address. Its membership fees should be around $50 annually and $35 for students and seniors. The library is looking for donations of tools and other household items in working condition; for information on drop-off spots and membership, visit ottawatoollibrary.com. (For online only: House Works columnist Steve Maxwell talks more about tool libraries here.)
The Home Renovations Show, which in 2014 saw for the first time more visitors interested in bathrooms than in kitchens, is featuring roughly 100 exhibitors. They range from decking and interior wall system providers to fireplace companies, interior designers, and home and condo renovators.
Exhibitors include Rimikon, an Ottawa company that has just started offering its extra-low-voltage lighting systems at the retail level. Touted as a DIY line, the LED pot, under-cabinet and other lights are plugged into an existing outlet instead of being hardwired. A complete package of six under-cabinet lights including power supply and wiring costs $259. Builders like Tamarack Homes are now using some Rimikon products in their homes.
Article Online – Ottawa Citizen http://ottawacitizen.com/life/homes/home-renovations-show-even-for-a-veteran-renovator-diy-project-comes-with-a-lesson
Article by: Patrick Langston
Published on January 14, 2015

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